Track Record

Learn About Maria's Track Record & Accomplishments

Maria is widely regarded as Philadelphia’s most effective leader and legislator.

Maria is widely regarded as Philadelphia’s most effective leader and legislator.


years in City Council


bills sponsored


small neighborhood businesses no longer pay the BRT Tax

City Council Leadership:

  • Chair: Committee on Appropriations Committee on Education
  • Co-Chair: Special Committee on Poverty Reduction & Prevention

City Council  Committee Assignments:

  • Ethics 
  • Finance 
  • Fiscal Stability & Intergovernmental Cooperation 
  • Global Opportunities & the Creative/Innovative Economy 
  • Housing, Neighborhood Development, & the Homeless 
  • Labor & Civil Service Law & Government 
  • Parks, Recreation & Cultural Affairs

Maria's accomplishments illustrate the breadth and depth of her vision and effectiveness.

Combatting Poverty

To change Philadelphia’s status as America’s poorest big city, we must invest in people and families so they can access support, jobs, education, and housing. Co-Chairing Council’s Special Committee on Poverty, Maria brought every partner to the table to find better ways to make meaningful investments that help working families thrive.

Highlight: Black Stimulus Package

In the summer of 2020, Maria led a successful campaign for a Black Stimulus Package, based upon real, longterm investments in Black and Brown communities.

In June of 2020, Maria led the call for a Black Stimulus through the passage of Resolution No. 200379, which cited the City’s “responsibility to pass a moral budget that secures Philadelphians’ right to safely raise our children in affordable, accessible housing among diverse, mixed-income neighborhoods where everyone shares access to good schools and good jobs.

The Black Stimulus includes a Poverty Action Fund (Bill No. 200369) with the City committing unprecedented $10 million down-payment to a public-private partnership designed to lift 100,000 Philadelphians out of poverty by directly investing in people through benefits access, workforce and educational development, and housing stabilization initiatives.

The Black Stimulus includes a Neighborhood Preservation Initiative (Bill No. 210203) that includes $400 million in borrowing to grow affordable housing, commercial corridors, and critical infrastructure in our neighborhoods beyond just downtown Philadelphia, and to build upon multi-million investments by community-based organizations throughout the 7th District to provide housing and business assistance as well as corridor cleaning and management.

Special Committee on Poverty Reduction & Prevention:
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Maria, with co-chairs Eva Gladstein, Sharmain Matlock-Turner, and Mel Wells, set an ambitious goal of moving 100,000 Philadelphians out of Poverty by 2024. Public hearings were held, which included over 100 subject matter experts.
The Poverty Action Fund:
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In 2020, Maria led the City to commit an unprecedented $10 million downpayment that leverages investments in benefits access, workforce development, educational supports, and affordable housing. A key recommendation from the Poverty Action Plan, the Poverty Action Fund is a publicprivate partnership managed by United Way, bringing leaders across sectors together to guide investments in people.
Neighborhood Preservation Initiative:
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In 2020, Maria introduced Res. 200379 calling for a Black stimulus package for our neighborhoods: $500 million invested in affordable housing and neighborhood commercial corridors. In 2021, City Council passed the Neighborhood Preservation Initiative, a $400 million Neighborhood Stimulus for affordable housing, familysustaining jobs, and anti-displacement initiatives.100,000 out of poverty by 2024; $100 million was allocated for 2021-2022.

Stimulating Small Business

Small businesses are the backbone of communities. Maria has understood this since the beginning of her tenure in the 7th District. When you support local businesses, money circulates locally and leads to more jobs for residents.

Highlight: BIRT Tax Reform

Bill No. 130487, adopted Jun. 16, 2013 Councilmember Sánchez and Councilman Bill Green passed Bill No. 110554 to reform and restructure Philadelphia’s business tax system. Councilmember Sánchez’s bill also creates significant benefit to small business by exempting the first $100,000 of gross receipts from taxation. Over 73,000 of the 90,000 businesses that file BIRT returns have $0 liability.

COVID-19 Small Business Relief Working Group:
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Led City Council in supporting the development of a Small Business Relief Program that ultimately leveraged more than $100 million in federal, state, and local relief during the pandemic.
Small Business Tax Reform:
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Maria led a $100,000 exemption from Business Income and Receipts Tax liability that wipes out entire tax liability for more than 73,000 of the city’s nearly 100,000 neighborhood-based businesses. This tax reform also waived licensing fees for small businesses and ensured companies headquartered outside the city pay their fair share of taxes.
Expanding the Sustainable Business Tax Credit (2016):
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Doubles the amount of businesses eligible to apply a $5,000 credit against their full liability for business income and receipts taxes (BIRT). It applies the total value of the credit against the recipient’s full BIRT liability, so businesses fully utilize the tax relief. It modernizes eligibility requirements to reflect what it means to be a “Sustainable Business” in Philadelphia.
Creating a “Jump Start” Program for New BCorps (2016):
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This bill encourages new businesses to become BCorps and take root in Philadelphia by extending BCorps a third year of eligibility for the city’s new business BIRT exemption and fee waivers.
Single Sales Factor (Manufacturing Tax Reform):
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As part of Bill No. 110554, the Councilmember reformed the business tax liability structure for manufacturing, representing almost 70% in tax savings for this sector, allowing them to compete in the global economy.
Use and Occupancy Tax Reform (2011):
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Maria also shielded small businesses from a massive tax increase from the Actual Value Initiative by providing a $2,000 tax exemption for 69% of business that include the city’s small “Mom and Pop” businesses

Protecting Housing

Diverse, mixed-income neighborhoods don’t happen by accident. Maria is a leading voice fighting for investments in affordable housing and creating tools to preserve affordability in every neighborhood.
City-Wide Anti-Displacement Initiatives:
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Maria has authored over 30 major bills to prevent displacement, keep families in their homes, and promote equitable development. These ‘tools in the toolbox’ include: income-based tax payment plans and tax relief for low-income homeowners (OOPA, LOOP, Senior Tax Freeze & the Homestead Exemption); utility supports including Philadelphia’s internationally recognized water affordability program (TAP); and direct assistance for rent, down payments, home repairs, and eviction & foreclosure prevention.
7th District Anti-Displacement Initiatives:
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The 7th District leads the city in remapping and zoning code reform to preserve neighborhood character & history, spur growth in neighborhood commercial corridors, promote mixed-income, mixed-use development, and make sure community voices are heard. Maria works closely with community organizations to ensure that development enhances quality of life for long-term residents without displacement. In 2020, with the American Street Overlay, Maria established the strongest affordable housing requirements in Philadelphia.
COVID-19 Rental Assistance & Emergency Housing Protections Act
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Maria aggressively supported the Emergency Housing Protections Act, which provided emergency protections for landlords and tenants during the pandemic, including eviction moratorium, eviction diversion program, a repayment plan, and prohibitions against late fees and illegal lockouts. As Appropriations Committee Chair, Maria also helped appropriate more than $100 million in federal, state, and local emergency rental assistance to landlords and tenants.
$100 Million for Affordable Housing:
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In 2018, Maria won an unprecedented commitment of $100 million for the Housing Trust Fund for affordable housing and homelessness prevention. This five year investment to support equitable development, assist first-time homeowners, and construct new affordable units, resulted from over a year of negotiation with housing advocates, industry stakeholders, and the Kenney administration.
Expanding the Mixed Income Housing Bonus:
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In 2018, Maria also authored the expanded Mixed Income Housing Bonus to incentivize affordable housing development and generate revenue for the Housing Trust Fund. This win-win program immediately exceeded initial revenue estimates, generating nearly $20 million in payments to the Housing Trust Fund.
Fighting for Inclusionary Zoning:
Fighting for Inclusionary Zoning:
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Inclusionary zoning is a critical tool for growing diverse, mixed-income neighborhoods. In 2021, Maria reintroduced legislation to expand affordability in new residential development in the 7th District. She is committed to ensuring that all Philadelphians can access safe, affordable housing with access to transit, great schools, and family-sustaining jobs.

Fighting for Labor Rights

Maria grew up in a large working-class family, so labor issues are personal to her. The labor movement is a foundational pillar in the movement for economic, racial, and social justice. Her parents worked the graveyard shift as janitors at Temple University. Their access to a union changed their lives.

Highlight: Domestic Workers Bill of Rights​

In 2019, Maria led Philadelphia to establish a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, the nation’s first comprehensive municipal law that provides benefits and protections for nannies, caretakers, house cleaners, and other domestic workers, and that recognizes workers’ inherent right to demand fair standards within historically unregulated and unprotected work environments. Maria believes that all workers deserve dignity and respect.

Philadelphia 21st Century Minimum Wage Standard:
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Increases the minimum wage to $15 for all City of Philadelphia employees and authorized contractors. (Bill No. 180846, 190102).
The Municipal ID Program:
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Photo ID is essential for modern life, so Maria fought to help all Philadelphians can access essential services with a secure and affordable photo ID. Launched in 2019, PHL City ID has provided over 20,000 Philadelphians with secure ID as well as access to cardholder benefits, discounts, and memberships. (Bill No. 160151)
Sick Leave:
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Maria helped lead the passage of Councilmember Greenlee’s transformational paid sick leave legislation (Bill No. 141026), allowing families to care for their loved ones, avoid health care costs, and support a more productive economy.
Black Workers Matter Package:
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Philadelphia’s standard-bearing protections for historically diverse hospitality industry provides that employers must recall and retain existing workers before hiring new ones.
Essential Workers Protection Act:
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Protects workers from retaliation for speaking out about work conditions that violate mandatory health orders during the pandemic.
Creating a Fair Workweek:
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Provides retail, hotel, and other Philadelphia employees with flexible working schedules; ten days advance notice of scheduling, predictable pay, and preference for available shifts. (Bill No. 180649-A)

Bolstering Education

As an educator and school founder, Maria has fought for decades for fair & equitable school funding. After drastic state cuts, federal disinvestment, and the pandemic, we now anticipate millions in new education funding. As Chair of Council’s Education Committee, Maria believes we must seize the opportunity of local control to reimagine the school of the future.

Maria has fought to expand transit access, meal service, internet access, bilingual programs, and safe routes to school so that kids arrive each day ready to learn. Throughout the pandemic, Maria led efforts bring resources, transparency, an equity lens, and intergovernmental cooperation to the heroic efforts of educators and school communities to keep students learning through difficult months.

With local control and unprecedented funding, now is the time to clarify our commitment to Philadelphia’s children & families:

  • Every child in Philadelphia should be able to walk to a neighborhood elementary school where they are safe and welcomed. 
  • Diverse high school options should create pathways to college, career, trades, the arts, and entrepreneurship so every student graduates with a vision for their future.
  • School buildings should be community anchors, where resources, diverse and culturally relevant programming, and learning opportunities for all ages are accessible to all. Opportunities should be taken to co-locate with parks & recreation, health centers & other community resources.

We must remember that the people inside are more important than any school building. School communities must have the tools
and resources to grow and thrive within their neighborhoods.

  • In 2018, Maria authored Res. 180531 to create a School Facilities Task Force to assess our challenges.
  • She fought to open two new public schools in the 7th District during a time of citywide closures and cutbacks.
  • Willard School & Kensington CAPA both show us the possibilities of what the school of the future can be.